She rests her head on your shoulder and snuggles up. She whines a little bit trying to take your mind off of your problems. She instinctively knows what is bothering you. Her breath smells. But she is always there. She will always be there by your side. She growls at the mail carrier and howls at the moon.
Therapy dogs have been been around for almost 50 years when Therapy Dogs International accredited the first German Shepherd in 1976.
Humans been domesticating dogs for over 15,000 years so it only makes sense they’d want to take care of us. Today you could say dogs are the leading agent in making others comfortable and happy.
Dogs are easily the most common therapy animal around. Cats, birds and reptiles are also used for therapy. This can be attributed to how easy dogs can be transported.
“My dog has moved everywhere with me,” Special Education teacher Miss Lindsey Motl said.
Along with that, dogs are highly empathetic to the needs of their pack-mates, like their humans. Also, people just like dogs. They’re the most owned animal in the world, excluding multiple owned cats. Many individuals have had experience with dogs that have emotionally resonated with them.
“Whenever I come home my dog is always there wagging her tail and being excited,” Special Education director Mr. Ryan Roy said. “It makes me feel good.”
Students also love dogs and the school had the therapy dog Bauer. Bauer left when his human, Mrs. Paige Clingenpeel started working with her church.
“Bauer was cute,” Senior Austin Barber said. “I loved seeing him do dog things. He was something to look forward to every day I wish he wasn’t gone.”
The environment changed from a place where students are forced to attend into a cool hangout with a friendly face.
“I really wish Bauer was still here,” Austin added.
Not all dogs can be a therapy dog. Some dogs just aren’t a good fit. The dogs that are used for therapeutic purposes are specifically meant to meet the needs of those they’re helping.
“They have to have a good temperament,” said Hickory Center Principal Roanne Marlow said.
Mrs. Marlow’s German Shepherd is the therapy dog at Hickory Center.
“With my other dog we never thought about him being a therapy dog cause of how rowdy he is,” she said. “Patience is a virtue that’s needed. When humans dote on the dog, the dog needs to be able to stay calm.”
Something to remember when a therapy dog is doing its job is that the dog can’t do it forever. Dogs have emotional capacity too and often they will get overwhelmed if they have to do their job for the entire day. The dog needs to be allowed to rest. If the dogs look stressed or tired, leave it alone. The therapy dog is here to make people feel better, but it also should be allowed to take breaks.
“Seeing the students smile so bright when the dog comes in makes all the training worth with,” said Mrs. Marlow. “Even if I can’t bring her in much, it always brightens up there and my days.”